Finding motivation to work out

We’ve all been there. While last night the idea of waking up early to squeeze in a pre-work run or 10-minute meditation seemed manageable, by morning the only exercise you can muster is a bleary trudge towards your phone in search of the snooze button.

With lockdown, many of the excuses I’d made towards daily exercise were quashed. I’d eliminated a long commute that zapped my energy and I had the flexibility to exercise at a more convenient time of day. However, if this time at home has taught me anything, it’s that no matter how much time you have, if you don’t enjoy the exercise you’re doing, well, you just won’t do it.

Prior to the pandemic I’d joined a local gym and would go – somewhat reluctantly – a few times per week. Blaring music and inevitable late dinners meant I never felt wholly motivated to go. I’d also never questioned whether I was actually enjoying the workouts I was doing and had just shoehorned myself into a common fitness mould that seemed to work well for other people. Spending more time at home has helped me figure out how and why I like to keep fit; I’ve always liked running and realised my legs feel less like lead if I go out in the morning, I dusted down my old bike and have ridden it almost everyday and I’ve discovered free online yoga classes which feel much more restorative than an hour’s cardio session. Yes, I’ve had the luxury of a more flexible routine but I also know that my mindset towards exercise has changed. I’ve created more sustainable habits for working out that I hope will be just as achievable if/when I go back to my regular office-based 9-5.

Below I’ve listed some of my top tips for finding the motivation to work out, even when you don’t want to.

Find something you enjoy

Sounds simple doesn’t it but I’m 30 and I’m only just figuring this out! As I mentioned earlier, I’ve really enjoyed going out on my bike, it’s a great way to immerse yourself in nature and discover new places around where you live. You can find bikes and equipment relatively cheaply online or even ask a family member or friend if they have a bike you can borrow.

On the days where I have more energy I’ll do a 20 minute HIIT session with Joe Wicks or go out for a run; Joe has a range of workouts on his YouTube channel to suit all fitness levels and they’re easy to squeeze in if you’re short on time.

On slower days I’ll do an online yoga class. I’ve always dipped in and out of yoga but I’ve started to see real benefits of spending more time on my mat. You can find free classes on YouTube such as Yoga with Adriene or classes with April Wild.

If you’re missing the gym, could you buy some weights and create workouts at home or set up circuits at your local park?

If you like listening to podcasts, audiobooks or music, find a piece that you’re really excited about and coincide listening to this with working out.

Schedule it in

One thing that has helped me stay motivated is to schedule exercise in my diary as if it’s a meeting I cannot miss. You never know how’ll you’ll feel from one day to the next so instead of writing ’30 minute run’, just put AM or PM workout and do what works for you on the day. Your time is then blocked out and you’ll feel so satisfied when you can tick it off your to-do list.

Be your own cheerleader

Sometimes it’s easy to tell ourselves reasons why we shouldn’t workout on a particular day – ‘I’m tired’, ‘I don’t have time’. Sound familiar? If you find the right form of exercise it should feel less of a chore and hopefully something you’ll enjoy doing. Schedule your workout in your diary or on your phone and add a fun sticker, emoji, or an encouraging message. Try and make daily as opposed to monthly goals, so instead of saying ‘get toned arms’ could you hold a plank for 30 seconds each morning or do a 10 minute meditation before you go to bed? Whatever it is, speak to yourself in a positive way, use encouraging mantras and remember that everyone’s fitness journey is unique and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for everyone else.

Time it right

Personally, if I don’t do some form of exercise in the morning my motivation ebbs away as the day goes on. I usually wake up and put on my workout gear, lace up my trainers and go. Other people may find they have more energy in the afternoon. Find a time in the day that suits you best and try to slot in your workouts during this time frame.

Get enough sleep

This is one that many of us don’t prioritise enough. I know myself that having a regular routine really helps keep my energy levels up. I’ll admit this has been harder to stick to during lockdown but it really helps going to bed and waking up at the same time everyday.

It’s also important that you’re getting enough sleep, for some people this can be seven hours for others, nine. Try your best to stick to a regular routine and if you like to workout in the morning it can be helpful to get your clothes laid out ready for when you wake up.

I hope you found this useful, do you have any tips for staying motivated to work out?

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